Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Online Classes Good for Soldiers

Rio Salado helping military spouses

Last year Rio Salado College served more than 3,000 members of the military, including members of the United States Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard.

The students completed associate degrees, racked up certificates and completed general education requirements and prerequisites for medical programs all while serving their country.

A military-friendly Servicemembers Opportunity College, Rio Salado has been serving the military for nearly three decades, starting with educational opportunities at Luke Air Force Base.

“We want to provide our military access to education so they can reach their personal goals as well as their professional goals,” said Rick Kemp, associate dean at Rio Salado College.

Rio Salado course work is designed to prepare them to advance their career in the military as well as for life afterwards.

While he was deployed for a year in Afghanistan, Rio Salado graduate Mark Sussman earned an incredible 35 pre-med credits through the college’s online classes. He has now returned to the U.S. and has continued his education .

“I’ve encouraged any young soldier to take classes. With Rio’s partnership with GoArmyEd they have an excellent package. It’s a great way for a soldier to get ahead without the hassles of going to night school,” said Sussman.

While Rio Salado College has been educating military members serving around the world for years, they have also begun to focus on serving military spouses.

“We recognize the need for dual incomes and that the military paycheck is sometimes not enough to survive in the world today,” said Yvonne Lawrence, coordinator of military programs at Rio Salado College.

Rio Salado’s online course work allows spouses around the globe to earn college credit even though they maintain a very transitory life, Lawrence said.

The push to include military spouses in the government tuition assistance program is a national movement. The Department of Labor has recognized some careers are more portable. Several certificates and degrees are offered in those fields including health care, early childhood education and computer technology.

Rio Salado College is also at the top of the list for good deals.

According to the 2007 Department of Defense Voluntary Education Report, the national average for an online class is $540 per credit, while Rio Salado charges $65 per credit for residents and $159 for those out of state.

The bargain price means service members won’t have to pay any out of pocket costs, as well as stretching the impact of each military educational dollar. But it’s not just the $159 cost that attracts members of the military to Rio Salado College, said Kemp.

Rio Salado has a dedicated military advisement team. These advisors understand the needs and challenges of going to college while serving in the military.

“We recognize the nature of the profession. Our classes go with them anywhere, anytime,” said Kemp.

Rio Salado also offers credit for military training that has been approved by the American Council on Education. And best of all, Rio Salado offers entire degree programs online with start dates nearly every Monday.

Rio Salado College student Lee Vining has been deployed to Iraq for more than a year. Working on his associate degree, Vining hopes to advance his military career and become an officer by completing his baccelaurate degree. Vining studies between patrolling the streets of Baghdad, raids and helping the locals.

He believes earning a college education is important.

“I have four solders that I have introduced to Rio. The army is willing to pay for it, so why not get your education,” said Vining.

Rio Salado College offers 450 online courses and provides more than 60,000 students annually with the freedom to take classes anytime and anyplace they choose. Classes start every Monday. For registration or more information about military courses call 480-517-8540 or go to www.riosalado.edu/military.